4 Key components of a scope management plan

by Paul Kesler

Want to find out what’s included in a scope management plan? You’ve come to the right place.

“A fixed deadline and a flexible scope are the crucial combination.”– Jason Fried

What is a scope management plan?

Everyone knows about the project management plan, what it is, and how to go about creating one within your project teams. However, when was the last time you thought about or discussed the scope management plan with your colleagues or stakeholders? If you are like most project managers you probably haven’t for a while and so now might be a good time to refresh yourself and gain a firm understanding of the key components of the scope management plan and why they are key to project success.

In the most simple form the scope management plan is developed to address how you, as a project manager, will control the scope during your project. As a best practice typically, it will outline how the current scope will be defined, developed, and controlled during the initiation and execution phases of your project. This information is typically captured in a document/template. The Project Management Institute (PMI) lists the scope management plan as “the component of the project management plan that describes how the scope will be defined, developed, monitored, controlled and verified” (PMBOK, 5th Ed.).

Finally, I think it is important to state that the scope management plan is a part of the overall project management plan.

Typical components of a scope management plan:

Scope statement

The scope statement should outline the entire project as a whole. It should list out what is agreed upon between the customer and the project team, what is expected to be included/excluded, deliverables, solutions, assumptions, and any constraints.

Business or technical requirements

Your requirements gathering process should include any key stakeholders and customers, along with members of the project team that would have some experience working with others to elicit any specific requirements that your project must deliver or address as part of the final solution or output. This is not a one-and-done session, however, and one that should be developed after a series of meetings to ensure that all angles are covered. Be sure to talk about any tools required within the project delivery. If something critical is left out by mistake, it might take months to recover so best not to rush to complete this analysis.

Stakeholders and customers involvement

Be sure to have in your scope management plan, meetings with the people that will be involved, impacted, or have a say in the final product or solution. Some of these individuals are probably already included as part of the requirements gathering activity, but you never know so make sure to spend some time thinking about and meeting with these important constituents.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The WBS, the foundational component of project management, lists out all the tasks or activities required to deliver a successful project. When meeting with your project team in addition to listing out all of the tasks or activities you also want to identify all the required resources, tools, systems, and external parties needed as part of the overall project. As you identify your tasks, assign the people responsible for delivering each task. I would also make sure to review this with the entire project team altogether at once to avoid any miscommunication or confusion later.

Final thoughts

After developing your scope management plan, one common point is to develop a formal process and procedure to handle any requested changes in scope if you do not already have this in place. Most businesses call this the ‘Change Control Process.’ It is best to have as part of the change control process, a defined governance committee to handle any requested changes, to review each, determine the impact, and identify how this might affect other projects or people involved. Only then can you maintain consistency and control.


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